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Palace acquires licence as it pursues drive-in cinema option

Palace Amusement Company has advised that the company has obtained a licence for the operation of a drive-in cinema for at premises on Dominica Drive in New Kingston, Jamaica.

Palace Amusement says it has acquired a licence to operate a drive-in cinema in Dominica Drive, New Kingston.

The company said although the licence was obtained on August 21, 2020 and preparatory work has begun, it is unable to say when operations will commence.

Opening is subject to directives from the Government for the operation of cinemas and places of entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic, it outlined.

Palace disclosed in July that efforts have begun to explore the possibility of offering a drive-in cinema experience to patrons.

Inside Palace’s Sunshine Cineplex in Portmore, St Catherine. (Photo: Palace Amusement)

However, at the time it was noted that there had been no decision taken by senior management.

But, with conditions of community spread of the coronavirus, Palace has begun to look at the option with more urgency.

The island has entered the community spread phase of the COVID-19 virus, with numbers of those infected rising 300 per cent since July 5, to over 3000 individuals infected.

The cinema now has further reduced operating hours since the Government of Jamaica announced new curfew hours running from 8 .p.m. at night to 5 .a.m. last week.

On July 8 of this year, the company had reopened its cinemas following the advisory from Government that cinemas and places of entertainment could reopen, effective Sunday, July 5.

This followed the disclosure at mid-year that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the operations and performance.

Management said that since March 14, 2020, all cinemas were closed in conformity with guidelines, decisions and actions taken by the Government of Jamaica to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country.

Closure of the cinemas resulted in significant losses over the subsequent three and a half months, with the company noting it had substantial standing charges to maintain.

Palace sought interim financing from its bankers to help meet some of its financial obligations.

Further, all cinema staff, totalling almost 300 persons, were laid off.
In July, the company expressed the hope that it could have brought back as many staff as possible, on re-opening.
For the year ended June 30, 2020, PAL made a net loss of JM$131.25 million, of which JM$82.19 million occurred in the June quarter under COVID conditions.

Year-to-date revenues were JM$904.18 million with only JM$5.01 million of inflows in the April to June quarter.

This compared to JM$1.1 billion for the full year ending June 2019, with revenues of JM$337.99 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019.

Full-year profit for Palace in 2019 was JM$75.56 million, with profit in June quarter 2019 being JM$36.37 million.